Joint contribution of transformation and twinning to the high strength-ductility combination of a FeMnCoCr high entropy alloy at cryogenic temperatures

He, Z.F. and Jia, N. and Ma, D. and Yan, H.L. and Li, Z.M. and Raabe, D.

Volume: 759 Pages: 437-447
DOI: 10.1016/j.msea.2019.05.057
Published: 2019

The microstructure-mechanical property relationships of a non-equiatomic FeMnCoCr high entropy alloy (HEA), which shows a single face-centered cubic (fcc) structure in the undeformed state, have been systematically investigated at room and cryogenic temperatures. Both strength and ductility increase significantly when reducing the probing temperature from 293 K to 77 K. During tensile deformation at 293 K, dislocation slip and mechanical twinning prevail. At 173 K deformation-driven athermal transformation from the fcc phase to the hexagonal close-packed (hcp) martensite is the dominant mechanism while mechanical twinning occurs in grains with high Schmid factors. At 77 K athermal martensitic transformation continues to prevail in addition to dislocation slip and twinning. The reduction in the mean free path for dislocation slip through the fine martensite bundles and deformation twins leads to the further increased strength. The joint activation of transformation and twinning under cryogenic conditions is attributed to the decreased stacking fault energy and the enhanced flow stress of the fcc matrix with decreasing temperature. These mechanisms lead to an elevated strain hardening capacity and an enhanced strength-ductility combination. The temperature-dependent synergy effects of martensite formation, twinning and dislocation plasticity originate from the metastability alloy design concept. This is realized by relaxing the equiatomic HEA constraints towards reduced Ni and increased Mn contents, enabling a non-equiatomic material with low stacking fault energy. These insights are important for designing strong and ductile Ni-saving alloys for cryogenic applications. © 2019 Elsevier B.V.

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